Clintons, Russians, and Uranium… Oh My

Three recent reports published in The Hill over the last week (all by the same journalistic team, John Solomon and Alison Spann) revealed new information about a potential Clinton scandal involving a Russian energy company and U.S. uranium supply. While this story has garnered little attention among liberal and mainstream media, it has been a prominent issue for conservative media since the 2016 election.

Renewed mainstream validation from this Hill report has galvanized conservative (and, to a lesser degree, mainstream) interest in this story, so a clear look at the facts of the case seems prudent. Here’s our breakdown:

What We Knew

In September 2010, a Canadian mining company named “Uranium One” (which had licenses to mine approximately 20 percent of the U.S. uranium supply, along with U.S.-controlled deposits in Kazakhstan) was bought by a Russian state-owned energy company called Rosatom.

Uranium is a strategic asset, and purchases of strategic assets by foreign firms (especially ones from countries with whom our relationship is as tenuous as Russia) must be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

That committee is comprised of the leaders of 15 different U.S. government departments (plus two more non-voting department heads), including the Department of the Treasury (the chair of the committee), Department of Justice, Department of Defense and the State Department. The CFIUS approved the deal, unanimously.

While some individuals were concerned about the sale at the time, most individuals with substantial knowledge of strategic resource markets did not seem alarmed: Both CNN experts interviewed in 2010 and a 2015 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists analysis agreed that the sale did not comprise a threat to global security.

Here’s where the Clintons come in. As previously noted, Hillary Clinton is one of the members of CFIUS, and this deal went through in 2010, while Clinton was secretary of state. Her office approved the deal (though Brian Fallon, her campaign spokesman, claimed that she was not personally involved in the matter).

And here is where allegations of suspect behavior begin. While this acquisition was under review, there were funds flowing from sources related to the acquisition deal into the pockets of former President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. The precise nature and amount of these donations are clearly depicted by the New York Times with this graphic.

The allegations, then, are that Hillary Clinton’s decision to approve the transaction was influenced by donations from individuals connected to the deal.

What The Hill Reported

Over the past week, reporting from The Hill’s John Solomon and Alison Spann has contributed several key pieces of information to the equation. The first report, published last Tuesday, stated that Vadim Mikerin (the “main Russian” in charge of Russia’s U.S. nuclear expansion, a title that would have included the Uranium One acquisition that was approved by the CFIUS) has been under FBI investigation for wrongful business practices since 2009.

These business practices included “bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering,” all geared towards expanding Russian energy business interests in the U.S.

According to Solomon and Spann, even though the FBI had substantial proof of Mikerin’s shady dealings “as early as 2009,” they continued investigating until 2014. The authors don’t offer any suggestions as to why the FBI did this, but many conservatives are accusing the FBI of waiting for political reasons.

The second report, published last Wednesday, concerns an unnamed “American businessman” who had worked as an FBI undercover witness. According to his attorney, the Justice Department (under the Obama administration) blocked the businessman from discussing things he had witnessed “related to the Russian nuclear industry’s efforts to win favor with Bill and Hillary Clinton and influence Obama administration decisions.”

Allegedly, the man had witnessed “a lot of bribery going on around the U.S.” but had not revealed anything to Congress because the FBI asked the man to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA). He is quoted in the report saying “the Obama Justice Department threatened him with loss of freedom. They said they would bring a criminal case against him for violating an NDA.”

This is troubling, to say the least, but it is important to recall that the Justice Department has not  been controlled by Democrats since January. If the unnamed businessman is still trying to testify to Congress and still being prevented from doing so, it’s not likely that is happening for political reasons.

Finally, the third report (published Thursday) claimed that Bill Clinton had sought State Department clearance to meet with Arkady Dvorkovich, a “key board director” of Rosatom (the firm that bought Uranium One) when he went to Moscow in 2010.

On that trip, he collected $500,000 in speaking fees from a regime-tied bank there. He did not end up meeting with Dvorkovich (he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin instead), but the fact that clearance was sought in the first place does raise some questions about dealings between Rosatom and the Clinton family — especially in the light of exorbitant speaking fees and substantial donations (all of which can be found here).

Potential Implications

All told, it’s a significant story. And it’s not receiving much coverage, at least not from mainstream and left-leaning outlets (conservative outlets are, unsurprisingly, covering it quite extensively).

Why not? Many conservatives believe mainstream outlets are “covering up” the story due to their inalienable left-wing bias. It seems more likely that mainstream newsrooms believe that their left-leaning consumers won’t be terribly interested in another Clinton scandal, especially with an avalanche of unrelated political news at the moment.

Regardless, The Hill’s reporting raises some important questions about the Clinton Foundation, and we should all be watching as the story unfolds.

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